After introducing QR code payments at Singapore’s Tanjong Pagar hawker center last weekend, Nets today revealed more details of its plans for upgrading the city-state’s epayments infrastructure.
The payments company’s new NetsPay solution allows users to make payments directly from their bank accounts, either by scanning a QR code using their smartphone, or by contactless swipe if their device is near-field communications (NFC) enabled.
Speaking at a media briefing today, Nets CEO Jeffrey Goh said that users of mobile wallets provided by Singapore’s three largest consumer banks will be able to use the Nets contactless and QR code systems. The company is also introducing its own NetsPay Wallet that will allow cards from different banks to be contained in a single mobile wallet. Besides making contactless and QR code payments within Singapore, NetsPay Wallet users will also be able to use the app in certain other countries, including China.
Following the Tanjong Pagar launch, the company will roll out Nets QR and contactless payments to more food stalls, restaurants, and small merchants in the coming months. Nets aims to be offering payment by QR code in 30 of the country’s hawker centers by the end of the year, according to the company’s deputy head of business services Alvin Teck.
While QR code payments will not require the installation of card terminals and related equipment, Nets will provide the infrastructure for free – for the next three years – to any hawkers that decide to offer additional card-based payment options.
The QR code and NFC payments will also be rolled out in restaurants – with “pay-at-table” a possibility for establishments with the right point-of-sale set-up – school canteens, vending machines, and car parks. Nets QR will also be made available to the approximately 1,000 internet stores that already accept money through Nets’ online payments gateway, allowing web users to pay by QR code while surfing the internet.
In terms of contactless card and NFC device transactions, Nets is hoping to have 60,000 of its 100,000 acceptance points throughout the country able to handle such payment methods by the end of the year.
Into the fray
Since Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted a unified epayments system as one of the country’s key objectives in his National Day Rally speech last month, several companies have taken up the challenge.
Razer published its proposal last week, to mixed reception. Grab aims to have its QR payments system available at 1,000 hawker stalls and small merchants by this year’s fourth quarter. Carousell has offered its hand in collaboration, while payments giant PayPal is also keen to get more Singaporeans going cashless.
Goh expressed mild scepticism about proposals claiming that rapid rollouts in a matter of months are possible, suggesting that Nets has an advantage in already operating an extensive payments network that handles transactions and settlement for thousands of merchants.
Nevertheless, Goh said that Nets would welcome collaboration with any partners and would participate in alternative proposals, so long as the fundamental criterion – that a new system should be easier than paying cash – is met.
“We’re not here to compete. We believe whoever can offer the best user experience will win,” he said. “Whether we are competing with them or not, we want to help, and we all want to make an epayments system that works. So if Razer has a wallet that’s successful, will we stop them from using our QR codes? No.”
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